2012年5月31日 星期四

smartphone will have radiation detector Does Japan really hate the iPhone?

New Japanese smartphone will have radiation detector
By Kyung Lah, CNN (CNN) -- Talk about a "smart" phone—Japan's latest mobile phone sensation also happens to be a radiation detector. The Pantone 5 107SH is the world's first mobile phone with a built-in radiation sensor, merging phone technology with ...


Does Japan really hate the iPhone?
Apple iPhone 3G
A reporter holds the new Apple iPhone 3G. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images
That depends on who you talk to.
A recent sequence of stories about the iPhone's level of success in Japan – a notoriously tough market for Western companies to crack - has turned into an avalanche of inaccuracies, accusations and mudslinging.
The furore was started by the news that Japanese phone network Softbank was going to start subsidising iPhones, and offering them free with a contract. This was reported by some outlets as a tacit admission of failure - including CrunchGear, which said it clearly indicated that "sales need a boost" (despite admitting there were "no official statistics" on iPhone sales in Japan).
The assumption that giving away phones for free is intended to stimulate demand makes sense, but to claim it represents failure ignores out the fact that free phones – subsidised by a long contract - are the norm in many countries outside of America, even for high-end smartphones and expensive new handsets.
However, the presumption that the move to free was the result of terrible sales continued to spread until, finally, Wired.com's Brian X Chen tipped things over the edge. His story, entitled "Why the Japanese hate the iPhone", suggested that "Apple's iPhone has wowed most of the globe – but not Japan, where the handset is selling so poorly it's being offered for free".
Like any negative comment about Apple, that drew vociferous reaction from the company's legion of fans – including as an absurd 3,000 word rebuff/rant by Apple Insider – but, intriguingly, also from one of the subjects interviewed for the article, Noboyuki Hayashi. He responded by publishing his actual view of the iPhone in Japan, including the full text of the email he sent Chen (none of which was used in the article).
This all proved mildly entertaining for observers - but while it served to reiterate a couple of well-known facts (journalists get things wrong sometimes; Apple has a vast army of dedicated defenders) it did little to shed light on whether or not Japanese consumers actually like the iPhone.
The best answer for that question comes from sales figures, and there aren't any official numbers available at the moment. However, Softbank said last year that the iPhone was boosting subscriber numbers and one industry estimate suggested that Japanese consumers had bought 200,000 iPhones in the three months after it launched last summer (Hayashi revised that figure to suggest it was in excess of 300,000).
With concrete numbers telling story, that figure was contrasted with unsourced claims that Softbank and Apple had wanted to achieve 1 million units sold by the end of 2008. However, given that O2 has admitted it took 16 months to sell 1 million iPhones in Britain, reaching a similar number in less than six would be a stretch - even in Japan's mobile-crazy environment.
All that's clear is that while the iPhone might not be a strong player in Japan's mobile culture – and with no support for emoticons, no built-in TV, no multimedia messaging it's not a surprise - it seems that plenty of Japanese people like it well enough.
Not as exciting, but probably a bit more realistic.

2012年5月30日 星期三

'monozukuri', Toyota's Prius

Japan incentives make Prius No. 3 best-selling car
San Francisco Chronicle
Toyota's Prius, a niche oddity when it went on sale 15 years ago, jumped to the world's third-best-selling car line in the first quarter as US demand and incentives in Japan turned the hybrid into a mainstream hit. Prius sales more than doubled as ...

"Toyota is a global company that was brought up in Japan. By all means, we will implement tasks to strengthen 'monozukuri' (conscientious manufacturing) in Japan," Toyoda told a news conference.


Toyota to increase production in Tohoku


photoToyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda visited a Toyota plant in Miyagi Prefecture affected by the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake. (Toyota Motor Corp.)
Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda said July 13 that the company would strengthen its production bases in the Tohoku region of northern Honshu, where personnel costs are cheap and its manufacturing lines are new.
"Toyota is a global company that was brought up in Japan. By all means, we will implement tasks to strengthen 'monozukuri' (conscientious manufacturing) in Japan," Toyoda told a news conference.
The decision offers a way to overcome severe management challenges, including the strong yen, and reap benefits from exporting, Toyoda said.
However, there is no guarantee the carmaker can maintain its current domestic production levels. Management sources do not deny the possibility that Toyota may eventually be forced to cut back on its production in Japan.
At the news conference, Toyota announced it would make Kanto Auto Works Ltd., which has production bases in the Tohoku region, a wholly-owned subsidiary and integrate it with its two other subsidiaries, Central Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Tohoku Corp.
In addition, the company said it would also make group member Toyota Auto Body Co. a wholly-owned subsidiary.
Toyota plans to build a total of 7.39 million cars worldwide in fiscal 2011. Of those, 3.03 million will be produced in Japan, including those for export.
The decision to shift production to Tohoku comes as the company works to maintain its domestic production forecast of at least 3 million units.
Toyota expects to book consolidated operating profits of 300 billion yen (about $3.8 billion) this fiscal year. However, the automaker, which handles domestic production and exports, is likely to fall 400 billion yen into the red on an unconsolidated basis this fiscal year.
Because of the soaring value of the yen against the dollar, profits from exports are shrinking. Toyota heavily depends on exports, and it loses a staggering 30 billion yen in consolidated operating profits every time the currency rises by a single yen.
To cut its losses, Toyota plans to entrust design and development to its subsidiary. As well, strengthening production in Tohoku will give Toyota its third manufacturing hub after the Tokai region, where Toyota Motor is headquartered, and Kyushu in the south.
"We will raise the local content of auto parts in the Tohoku region," Toyota Motor Vice President Atsushi Niimi said at the July 13 news conference.
That indicates Toyota will spread out its parts production bases, now concentrated in the Tokai region, in part because a powerful earthquake has long been forecast to hit the Tokai region at some point.
Iwate Governor Takuya Tasso welcomed Toyota's plan to expand in the Tohoku region.
"It's a big step forward as it will lead to construction of an integrated production system (in the region)," he said.
However, Tohoku is currently under a law, imposed after the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake, that limits electricity usage. A source related to Toyota warned that strengthening production in the Tohoku region as a manufacturing base for small cars carries risks.
Raising production in Tohoku may well result in a decrease in production in the Tokai region, unless the company's overall domestic production increases, said a local government official in Aichi Prefecture, which is part of Tokai.
Moreover, some of Toyota's Tokai production lines are aging. "We will stop operating those lines in the future," Niimi said.
Other major carmakers are accelerating the transfer of production bases overseas, where they can avoid electricity shortages and the stronger yen's effects.
Last year, Nissan Motor Co. stopped producing its mainstay compact, the March, in Japan, and transferred production to Thailand and elsewhere.
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. also plans to make its next mainstay small car in Thailand, starting in 2012.
Local governments in the Tohoku region fear that manufacturers could shift their production bases overseas.
Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai said he was grateful for Toyota's plan to increase production in the Tohoku region, but had some reservations.
"In view of the tax system and (no measures taken against) the higher appreciation of the yen, I feel as if the central government is taking policies that lead companies to transfer their production bases to other countries," he said.
"I don't know how long the (planned) integrated company (of Kanto Auto Works, Central Motor and Toyota Motor Tohoku) will stay in Tohoku."

日本公司尾大難掉 變革不易

Panasonic Corp. plans to cut the number of staff at its head offices by 3,500 people, roughly halving its central workforce.


Getty Images







東芝第三財季的債務與股東權益比率已經飆升到了267%。高盛(Goldman Sachs)表示﹐東芝可能需要大規模發股融資﹐下一財年將到期的將近7.8億美元債券是其中原因之一。








James Simms

In Japan, the Young and Global Need Not Apply 東京女学館大学閉校の波紋~大学冬の時代~

紐約時報 論日本公司不願雇用回國的年青國際人材.

In Japan, the Young and Global Need Not Apply
Critics say the reluctance of businesses to hire Western-educated graduates who return to the homeland hurts some of Japan’s increasingly globalized industries.


東京女学館大学(東京都町田市)が学生募集を来年度から停止する。現在の1年生が卒業する2016年3月で閉校する方針。学生の定員割れ が続き、約25億円の累積赤字があるという。同大の理事会は4月下旬、教職員や文部科学省に大学閉校の方針を伝え、学生らに通知文を発送した。同大は、 1956年に開設された短大が前身。02年に国際教養学部のみの4年制大学となったが、定員割れが続いていた。少子化が進むなか、大学経営はいよいよ厳し さを増している。今回の事例が示していることは――。

a Chinese diplomat was spying on businessmen and politicians in Japan


China: Diplomat in Japan Not a Spy

China is rejecting Japanese media reports that suggest a Chinese diplomat was spying on businessmen and politicians in Japan.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin said Wednesday the accusations against the diplomat, whom he identified as Li Chunguang, are groundless.

“He is a researcher who has been doing research on Japan for a long time. He was then temporarily transferred to the economic department of the Chinese Embassy in Japan, from the Academy of Social Sciences. He has finished his tenure and come back to China. Some media reports of Li Chunguang carrying out spying activities are groundless.”

Japanese media reports said Tuesday that Li had refused to surrender to police and fled to China amid the espionage allegations. The reports described him as a former member of China's intelligence service and a first secretary at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo.

The 45-year-old is accused of opening up bank accounts using fraudulent documents and engaging in unauthorized commercial activities. Reports say he is suspected of attempting to collect information on Japanese businessmen under the direction of the Chinese military.

The case highlights long-standing tensions between China and Japan. The economic rivals have also been involved in a territorial dispute over a group of uninhabited, but resource-rich, islands in the East China Sea.

2012年5月28日 星期一

News / Features Japan's Big Three Car Makers Post Strong Sales

Japan's Big Three Car Makers Post Strong Sales
Wall Street Journal
By YOSHIO TAKAHASHI TOKYO—Japan's three biggest car makers reported an on-year surge in domestic production and sales in April, highlighting their strong recovery after the earthquake and tsunami in March last year battered their supply chains and ...

The government has angrily taken issue with a May 23 report by the World Health Organization on overall levels of radiation exposure in Japan, accusing it of overestimating the problem. (May 25) [more]

News / Features

Three-quarters of Japanese firms oppose nuclear power
By Tetsushi Kajimoto and Izumi Nakagawa | TOKYO (Reuters) - Nearly three-quarters of Japanese companies support abandoning nuclear power after last year's Fukushima disaster, although a majority set the condition that alternative energy resources must ...
See all stories on this topic »
Japan eyes smaller nuclear role but no exit strategy
Lack of 2050 target would be victory for nuclear power industry * Fifteen percent atomic energy by 2030 seen likely compromise * Summer showdown seen critical for long-term policy By Linda Sieg TOKYO, May 25 (Reuters) - Japan is leaning toward a policy ...
See all stories on this topic »
Japan Tobacco Buys Belgium's Gryson for $597 Million
Japan Tobacco Inc. (2914) climbed the most in a month in Tokyo trading after the maker of Camel and Mild Seven cigarettes agreed to pay 475 million euros ($596 million) for Gryson NV to boost growth in Europe's roll-your-own market.
See all stories on this topic »

Alaskan crews gear up to tackle Japan tsunami debris
By Yereth Rosen | ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Cleanup workers will soon attack a jumble of debris from Japan's 2011 tsunami that litters an Alaskan island, as residents in the state gear up to scour their shores for everything from buoys to building ...
See all stories on this topic »
Japan radiation report finds mostly 'low' doses; risks unclear
Los Angeles Times
More than a year after a devastating tsunami inundated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a report from the World Health Organization says people in most parts of Japan got "low" added radiation, but estimates much higher doses in some areas ...
See all stories on this topic »
Utility Says It Underestimated Radiation Released in Japan
New York Times
TOKYO (Reuters) — The amount of radioactive materials released in the first days of the Fukushima nuclear disaster was almost two and a half times the initial estimate by Japanese safety regulators, the operator of the crippled plant said in a report ...
See all stories on this topic »
Japanese Life Insurers Likely to Maintain JGB Support
Wall Street Journal
By MEGUMI FUJIKAWA TOKYO—Major Japanese life insurers are likely to keep providing strong support to Japanese government bonds in the near term, as they steadily increase their buying of JGBs while turning away from euro-denominated bonds.
See all stories on this topic »
Japanese Life Insurers Likely To Support JGBs
Wall Street Journal
By Megumi Fujikawa TOKYO—Major Japanese life insurers are likely to keep providing strong support to Japanese government bonds in the near term, as they steadily increase their buying of JGBs to match the duration of their assets and liabilities and ...
See all stories on this topic »
Japan Robot Lab Readies Second Prototype for Work at Crippled Nuclear Reactor
By Jay Alabaster, IDG News A Japanese robotics lab has developed a new emergency response prototype that will soon be put to work at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northern Japan. (See footage of the robot in action and other projects ...

2012年5月26日 星期六

A revealing political crackdown on a usually hidden form of art

Tattoos in Japan

The shogun of Osaka

A revealing political crackdown on a usually hidden form of art

Yakuza, irezumi, mikoshi—and surely sake?
IT IS easy for outsiders to admire those in Japan who sport tattoos. First, think of the pain. The body art known as irezumi is inflicted on a wearer’s torso with wooden needles and charcoal ink. During up to 50 sessions, the irezumi master brooks no tardiness, insobriety or whingeing.
Then there is the lifetime of pariah status that follows. Bathhouses and onsen (hot springs) usually forbid entry to tattoo wearers. So do swimming pools. Men may believe their swirling, ornate body engravings reflect a roguish masculinity. But the worst of it is that many Japanese women disagree. And so body-art narcissism takes place mainly among other tattooed men. Such groups of even innocent men immediately take on the air of gangsters, for yakuza and irezumi are inseparable.

 "brass", effrontery, sobriety, brooks no tardiness...

Irezumi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irezumi - Cached
Irezumi (入れ墨, 入墨, 紋身, 刺花, 剳青, 黥 or 刺青) is a Japanese word that refers to the insertion of ink under the skin to leave a permanent, usually decorative ...

You might assume that an up-and-coming politician with a maverick streak, a descendant of social-outcast communities who used to dye his hair blond, would sympathise with such people. Yet Toru Hashimoto, the 42-year-old mayor of the huge city of Osaka, does not. He is on a mission to force workers in his government to admit to any tattoos in obvious places. If they have them, they should remove them—or find work elsewhere (though big companies are just as tattoo-phobic). Even Lady Gaga, the tattooed diva who has raised a fortune for victims of the March 11th tsunami, would not get a job in his government, he insists.

The crackdown says a few things about this clever nationalist, who is gaining huge attention in Japanese politics. First, he likes a bit of blood sport. Picking fights with people who cannot easily defend themselves keeps him in the media gaze. Mr Hashimoto’s campaign follows his order forcing teachers in Osaka to stand for the national anthem.

Second, it sets him firmly in the socially conservative camp, displaying even a dash of authoritarianism. Since the end of the second world war, tattoo-wearers have mostly faced social—though not official—ostracism. During the periods before then when tattoos were banned, it was either by repressive shoguns or by the Meiji modernisers in the late 19th century, who thought the sight of naked men with engraved buttocks would earn Japan ridicule in the West (which was mostly fascinated instead). Aligning himself with strongmen may serve only to boost Mr Hashimoto’s popularity, at a time when many Japanese are fed up with the weak-willed characters in national government.

The curious bit is that many of the tattooed have right-wing tendencies too. Many seem to approve of Mr Hashimoto’s crackdown. Horiyoshi the Third, an irezumi master based in Yokohama, is forgiving of the Osaka mayor. He says he believes Mr Hashimoto understands very well that public officials showing off their tattoos must be considered threatening. The tattooist, whose silk paintings are now on display at London’s Somerset House, keeps his own painted “body armour” well hidden beneath a pale-blue seersucker suit with a diamanté broach on the lapel. Most of the time, the master says, irezumi should be concealed.

Then he pulls back his sleeve a few inches to show the start of swirling decorations travelling up his arm. The simple act of revealing those tattoos, he says, is supposed to intimidate. Mr Hashimoto has a different way of showing that he means business, but it is equally effective.

両陛下、山口県入り 植樹祭出席のため 10 new results for japan

両陛下、山口県入り 植樹祭出席のため


山口縣 - 维基百科- Wikipedia

zh.wikipedia.org/zh-tw/山口 - Cached - Translate this page
山口縣(山口県、英文:Yamaguchi Prefecture)是位於日本本州最西部的一個縣。為構成 .... 山口新聞(全县覆盖,山口合同新闻社); 宇部新報(宇部市、山陽小野田市) ...

Show map of ‏日本, 〒753-0071 山口県山口市滝町1−1‏


News10 new results for japan
Japan minister visits tsunami-stricken nuke plant amid concern over safety of ...
Washington Post
TOKYO — Japan's environment and nuclear minister visited the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant Saturday to inspect a spent fuel pool at the center of safety concerns. The visit by Goshi Hosono comes amid renewed concerns about ...
See all stories on this topic »
Japan's Renesas eyes 14000 job cuts, chip plant sale: Nikkei
TOKYO (Reuters) - Struggling Japanese chipmaker Renesas Electronics Corp is planning to slash as many as 14000 jobs and sell a major semiconductor factory in Japan to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the Nikkei newspaper reported.
See all stories on this topic »
Japan Nuclear Operator Conducts Check on Risky Unit
Wall Street Journal
By PHRED DVORAK TOKYO—The operator of Japan's stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant said it took extra steps this week to check the soundness of one of its riskiest reactor buildings, in response to growing public unease over the possibility ...
See all stories on this topic »
Japan minister visits nuke plant amid pool concern
The Associated Press
TOKYO (AP) — Japan's environment and nuclear minister has visited the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant to inspect a reactor building and its spent fuel pool at the center of safety concerns. The pool sitting at the top of the No.
See all stories on this topic »
COLUMN-Japan is key support for battered oil price: Campbell
By Robert Campbell NEW YORK May 25 (Reuters) - Oil bulls battered by a recent slump in crude prices can take heart in at least one fact: Japanese utilities are still buying sweet crude heavily, propping up Asian oil prices even as Western benchmarks ...
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Japanese nuclear plant gets close examination
FOX 4 News
TOKYO -- The operator of Japan's damaged Fukushima nuclear plant completed its first detailed on-the-ground inspection of one of the reactors there since the tsunami 14 months ago, though three others remain too radioactive to examine.
See all stories on this topic »
Japanese lady, 73, awarded for scaling Mt. Everest
New York Daily News
Kathmandu, May 26 — A 73-year-old Japanese lady who climbed Mount Everest, the world's highest mountain, this past week has been awarded by the Guinness World Records. On Friday, Asian Trekking, a Kathmandu-based organisation, handed over a copy of ...
See all stories on this topic »
Japan Nuclear Energy: Japan Unlikely To Exit Nuclear Power
Huffington Post
By Linda Sieg TOKYO, May 25 (Reuters) - Japan is leaning toward a policy of halving nuclear power's share of electricity supply from pre-Fukushima levels to about 15 percent by 2030, but will likely stop short of pledging the long-term exit strategy ...
See all stories on this topic »
Toyota sees growth in emerging markets
Detroit Free Press
Japan's top automaker said Friday it is looking to emerging markets for growth. / April photo by Vincent Thian/Associated Press By Yuri Kageyama Associated Press TOKYO -- Toyota is looking to emerging markets for growth, targeting 50% of its global ...
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Japan to seek Sumitomo Mitsui unit fine-sources
TOKYO May 26 (Reuters) - Japan's securities regulator will seek a fine against a fund management arm of Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc for insider trading for the second time in two months and believes an employee of broker Nomura Holdings Inc was ...
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2012年5月24日 星期四

'Jika-tabi' footwear

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Jika-tabi (地下足袋?, "tabi that contact the ground") is a type of outdoor footwear worn in Japan. It was invented in the 20th century.
Also known (outside Japan) as "tabi boots", they are modelled on tabi, traditional split-toe Japanese socks. Like other tabi, jika-tabi have a divided toe area so that they can in theory be worn with slip-on thonged footwear, but they are heavy-duty, and resemble boots.
Tokujirō Ishibashi, a brother of Shōjirō Ishibashi who is the founder of the major tire company Bridgestone Corporation, is credited with their invention.
One disadvantage of jika-tabi is that they provide no real protection to the foot against falling objects or protruding sharp objects.

In Japan

Being made of heavy, tough material and often having rubber soles, jika-tabi are often used by construction workers, farmers and gardeners, rickshaw-pullers, and other workmen.
Though slowly being replaced by steel-toed, rigid-sole shoes in some industries, many workers prefer them for the softness of their soles. This gives wearers tactile contact with the ground, and the concomitant gripping ability lets them use their feet more agilely than rigid-soled shoes allow. This is useful for workers who traverse girders on construction sites and need to be sure what is under their feet. Carpenters and gardeners wearing these boots can, if they wish, use their feet as an extra pair of hands, for example to hold objects in place. There is also a line of knee-high all-rubber jika-tabi that is used by workers in rice fields and/or wet and muddy environments.
In more recent years, jika-tabi manufacturers, like Marugo and Rikio have introduced the "steel toe" and "hard resin" versions which are approved by the Japan Occupational Safety and Health Resource Center (JOSHRC).

In other countries

Outside Japan, where they are available from online and martial-arts shops, jika-tabi are appreciated by practitioners of martial arts in which traditional clothes are used. Other people also like wearing them for certain kinds of exercise, specifically trail-running, walking, and climbing.

'Jika-tabi' footwear becomes the rage to walk like a Japanese

photoSandal-type jika-tabi (Erina Ito)photoJika-tabi that can be fit to the feet with hook-and-loop fasteners (Erina Ito)photoA French woman and her husband look at jika-tabi in the "Sou Sou Tabi" shop. (Erina Ito)photoA variety of tabi socks (Erina Ito)photoA lining of a jika-tabi shoe is shown. (Erina Ito)photoThe external appearance of Sou Sou Tabi shop (Erina Ito)
KYOTO -- It's becoming comfortable and stylish to "walk like a Japanese," in traditional "jika-tabi" split-toe footwear that has long given much-needed traction and comfort to construction workers and miners.

2012年5月23日 星期三

ソニー、シャープとの液晶合弁を解消 Superhero opens bar in Tokyo suburb

ソニー、シャープとの液晶合弁を解消 自前主義転換

 ソニーは24日、シャープとの液晶パネルの合弁生産を解消すると発表した。赤字のテレビ事業を立て直すため、今後はすべての液晶パネルを台湾メーカーな ど外部から買ってコストを削減する。主力のテレビで、1960年の白黒テレビ発売以来続けてきた主要部品の自前生産から決別する。
 ソニーは2009年12月、シャープ堺工場の運営会社に100億円を出資し、7.04%の株を取得。将来的に出資比率を34%に引き上げるとしていた。 単にパネルを買うのではなく、自社の技術も注入して自前に近い生産体制にし、高品質のパネルを安定的に手に入れる狙いだった。


自弁で at one's own expense
pay one's own travel expenses

Masaru Shishido runs the Crystal Sky superhero bar in Tachikawa city, Tokyo. (Daisuke Tsujioka)
Masaru Shishido runs the Crystal Sky superhero bar in Tachikawa city, Tokyo. (Daisuke Tsujioka)

Superhero opens bar in Tokyo suburb

May 21, 2012
His days of saving the world from evil may be behind him, but Masaru Shishido isn’t ready to hang up the spandex just yet.
The 43-year-old actor, who made his name playing a superhero in the “Super Sentai” television series, opened the Crystal Sky bar in Tachikawa, Tokyo, in April, catering to grown-up fans of the genre.
He dresses the waitresses in uniforms inspired by heroines from the series he starred in and insists they call him "Taicho" (captain of the squad).
The walls are lined with about 500 figurines of Super Sentai heroes and other heroes from the Kamen Rider and Ultraman franchises donated by Shishido's fellow actors and other friends.
"I always wanted to create a place where customers could relax after work. 'Tokusatsu' heroes were the only way I had to differentiate myself from others," Shishido says, referring to the ‘tokusatu’ style of live-action special effects used in the “Super Sentai” series.
Shishido played Goro Hoshino and his superhero alter ego O-Red in the "O-Rangers" series that aired between 1995 and 1996 on TV Asahi and affiliated broadcasters.
He was born in Hino, Tokyo, and began his career as a child actor in a TV drama series in 1981. He gave up acting in 1984 and worked as a car dealer for two years after graduating from high school.
He quit that job to return to show business but then spent the next six years struggling to get past auditions, making ends meet with part-time jobs at a delivery company and an "izakaya" pub.
He finally got his break aged 26, when he won the role of O-Red. It was a dream come true for Shishido, who says he was fascinated by tokusatsu superheroes as a child.
During the course of the first series, he was faced with the unusual challenge of trying to transform his character from a dark and solemn-looking figure to a much more friendly boy-next-door following the Great Hanshin Earthquake in January 1995 and the sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system two months later.
"All the TV channels were only airing serious news reports. I think it was difficult for a tokusatsu drama for children to adopt a somber mood (in that situation)," Shishido recalls. "It was hard for me to change my acting style little by little over the course of the series because the audience would have been confused if I had suddenly drastically changed the protagonist's personality."
Shishido went on to act in the "Hurricangers" and "Gokaigers" series and began a singing career in 2006. He sees his new bar as an extension of his life in show business.
"Many of my customers are fans of tokusatsu dramas and anime,” he says.
The choice of Tachikawa’s Akebono district as the bar’s location is apt because several scenes of “O-Rangers” were filmed there. Tachikawa is a well-known location for movies and TV dramas and Shishido says he plans to conduct film location tours as a side-business.
The Tachikawa Film Commission, which was established in 2005, has given support to the production teams of 69 films, TV dramas and commercials shooting at public facilities in the city, including the superhero franchises "Ultraman Mebius" and "Madan Senki Ryukendo."
City officials say they hope Shishido’s new bar will help the city’s image.
"A futuristic view of the city is one of Tachikawa's charms," an official in the city's Industry Promotion Division says. "We will be grateful if the tokusatsu hero bar attracts fans who visit filming locations."

2012年5月22日 星期二

Tokyo Sky Tree lights up for holiday nights晴空塔 開業式典

Japan's newest landmark, the Tokyo Sky Tree, had its grand opening May 22 and thousands thronged to catch spectacular views of the capital from the world's tallest free-standing structure. (May 23)


〔編譯林翠儀/綜合報導〕以634公尺的高度成為全球最高電波塔的東京晴空塔(Sky Tree),22日正式對外開放,主辦單位特別邀請在地墨田區出生的台裔棒球名將王貞治為晴空塔商城剪綵,領到第一張登塔證的則是晴空塔命名者之一的中年上班族中澤步女士。
電波塔高634公尺 全球第一
9千張門票賣光 王貞治剪綵
雖 然晴空塔觀景台在22日中午過後,才正式開放給預約民眾參觀,但名為「天空町(Sokamachi)」的購物商城已搶先在上午開幕,以墨田區榮譽區民受邀 剪綵的王貞治表示,身為在地人與有榮焉。王貞治隨後也和晴空塔命名者之一的中澤步,以及開發商「東武塔晴空塔公司」社長鈴木道明,成為第一批登上觀景台的 訪客。
現年42歲的中澤步,4年前在下班搭乘電車時看到晴空塔的命名票選活動,她為「東京Sky Tree」投下一票,幸運地被抽中成為第一位參觀者。中澤帶著兒子一起登上350公尺的第一觀景台「天望台」,領取第一號登塔認證書,直呼自己好幸福。


 東京有了晴空塔 英FT東京分社社長王明:634米高的晴空塔是目前全球最高的自立塔。但它並不是從高空領略東京勝景的唯一去處。

萬斎さんが祝いの舞を披露 東京スカイツリーで開業式典


Tokyo’s high life

The cherry blossoms were out when I made my way to Tokyo’s newest tourist attraction, but for once it was not the blooms that admiring urbanites were taking snaps of on their mobile phones. Instead, the handsets were aimed higher, at a technological marvel flowering above them.
At 634m high, Tokyo Skytree claims the title of the world’s tallest free-standing tower, a slender shaft of white-painted steel that dominates the Japanese capital’s eastern skyline. The structure’s primary task is to transmit television and radio signals but city officials hope that when it opens to the public on May 22 it will also become a major visitor destination and an engine for the local economy.
On a warm spring day last week I was allowed to ride the high-speed lift for a preview of the Skytree’s main attraction: the multiple viewing decks wrapped around its steel and concrete structure – one at around 350m off the ground and the other at 450m. The Skytree’s exact place in the record books depends on semantics: Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is 195m higher but, because it contains apartments and offices, is classified as a building rather than a tower.
To emerge from a lift into any of these decks is to appreciate anew the sheer scale of greater Tokyo. Beyond the outward sloping, non-reflective, plate glass windows, the teeming metropolis spreads out into the distance.
Far off in the haze you can see the clusters of skyscrapers around the commercial centre of Shinjuku and other downtown districts. All around lie the countless smaller office towers, apartment blocks and low rise homes in which the region’s 35m inhabitants pass their days.
It is a view at once impressive and appalling. The sheer scale of the urban sprawl and the paucity of visible nature feels almost oppressive. When I posted on Facebook a picture of the view taken on my mobile phone, the first responses were from two Japanese fellow Tokyo residents. “OMG [Oh my God],” wrote one. “No green at all!,” commented the other.
Operator Tobu Tower Skytree will be hoping other potential visitors are more enthusiastic. Tickets are hardly cheap: entry to the 450m deck costs Y3,000 (£23).
To add to the appeal, the decks have been fitted with lots of other attractions. Among the best are high-tech screens that show video images of the view outside. Visitors can touch parts of the scene to zoom in (a handy substitute for the binoculars I forgot to take), shift the view from day to night or call up historical notes in English or Japanese.
In a nice touch, there is also on display a copy of a 19th-century folding screen painting of Tokyo that uses an aerial perspective intriguingly similar to that offered by Skytree. One deck boasts sections of glass floors that allows those not too troubled by heights to stare straight down at the ground far below.
And since Tokyo is the world capital of cute, visitors to the upper levels are greeted by the building’s mascot, cheery Sorakara “a young girl with a star-shaped head who descended from the skies”. (For those immune to Sorakara’s charms, Skytree has two supporting “official characters” – the penguin-like Eppenpen and the traditional “old dog” Sukoburuburu.)
Skytree’s height and relative elegance means it threatens to eclipse the Tokyo Tower, a much-loved but somewhat garish Eiffel Tower-look-alike built in the 1950s. And while last year’s magnitude 9.0 earthquake bent Tokyo Tower’s tip, Skytree’s operators say it sailed through the tremor unscathed. The building has a unique anti-earthquake system that boasts a reinforced concrete core (containing the 2,523-step emergency staircase) and a separate steel lattice structure. Operators claim the combination will reduce shaking by about half compared with conventional structures.
I was certainly impressed by the attention to detail shown elsewhere in the structure. Nearly 2,000 LED lights have been installed to allow the structure to glow in multiple colours. Each lift has a separate decoration scheme, and the upper ones boast glass roofs. In a charming example of Japanese punctiliousness, the leaflet guide I was handed on arrival came with a separate printed erratum. It took me a while to work out what was being corrected – only after multiple readings did I realise that the problem was a single missing full stop.
Tourists eager to shop will also appreciate the retail opportunities, including the mall which spreads out from the tower’s base and will be one of Tokyo’s biggest. They can also splash out at altitude: the decks boast a coffee shop (lattes cost Y450), restaurant (dinner courses from Y12,600 not including lift tickets) and a souvenir shop. This last has some items at sky-high prices – not least the 63cm-tall, light-up crystal Skytree model, on sale for Y665,700.
Still, visitors should not think Skytree is the only way to appreciate Tokyo from above. One solid favourite on my own personal tourist trail is a trip to the observatory floors of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku. Though a relatively lowly 202m above the ground, the observatories have fine views that include both far-off sprawl and close-up skyscrapers. There is also a wonderfully tacky tourist shop. Best of all, entry is free.
Mure Dickie is the FT’s Tokyo bureau chief
For more information and tickets, see www.tokyo-skytree.jp/english/. Inside Japan Tours can offer tailormade trips to Tokyo, incorporating city tours and Skytree visits. For information on Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building see www.metro.tokyo.jp/ENGLISH

 我造訪東京這座最新落成的旅遊景點時,櫻花已經凋謝,但這一次,興致勃勃的東京人掏出手機抓拍的不是櫻花盛開的美景,而是高聳在他們頭頂半空中的一項科技傑作。634米高的東京晴空塔(Tokyo Skytree)是目前全​​球最高的自立塔,這座由白色鋼架構建的修長軸形塔樓成了東京東部城區的新地標。整座塔的主要功能是傳輸電視廣播信號,但東京市官員希望它於5月22日正式對公眾開放後,成為另一著名景點,並成為提振本地區經濟的引擎。上週一個春暖花開的日子,我獲許乘坐高速電梯,預先一睹晴空塔的豐姿:兩個繞鋼筋混凝土結構而建的空中展望台——其中一座位於350米高空,另一座則位於450米高空。晴空塔被譽為“全球第一高樓”純屬摳字眼的結果:位於迪拜的哈里發塔(Dubai's Burj Khalifa)比晴空塔高出195米,但由於它還建有公寓及辦公室,所以被視作樓宇而非塔式建築。乘坐電梯登上展望台後,可以再次領略東京大都市的恢弘氣勢。透過外面非反射的傾斜狀厚玻璃窗,繁華大都市的盛況盡收眼底、一望無垠。放眼望去,新宿(Shinjuku)商業中心的摩天樓群以及其它繁華市區盡入眼簾。四周還有數不清的小型寫字樓、公寓大樓以及低層住宅樓,它們就是東京3500萬居民的休養生息之地。景色壯觀、令人震撼。看著東京市向四處不斷拓展的規模以及遮天蔽日的景象,著實動人心魄。我把用自己手機拍攝的一張高空俯瞰照片上傳至Facebook後,首個回貼的就是兩位東京居民。 “我的老天,”其中一位這樣回帖。 “竟然看不到一絲綠色!”另一位這樣評論道。運營商東武鐵道(Tobu Tower Skytree)希望屆時遊客會紛至沓來。但票價一點都不便宜;登上450米的展望台的票價是3000日元(約合23英鎊)。為了進一步吸引遊客,展望台還添加了諸多景緻。其中最絕的要數安裝的高科技屏幕,可以不斷播放登高覽勝的視頻及圖片。通過觸摸屏幕,遊客可以放大某些景點(本人忘了帶望遠鏡,手動觸摸即可解決之),白天的景與夜景可以自由切換,以及點出英語或日語的相關歷史註解。輕輕一觸摸,即可看到一幅19世紀的東京城市屏風畫,它使用空間透視法,與晴空塔上的高空瞭望效果圖幾乎如出一轍。其中一座展望台還設置了幾塊玻璃地板,可以讓那些不恐高的遊客直接俯瞰腳下的世界。由於東京被譽為世界玲瓏之都,登上最高層後,迎接遊客的就是大樓的吉祥物:歡快的Sorakara——“長著五角星腦袋、從天而降的小女孩形象”。對於那些對Sorakara清新可人形象無動於衷的遊客,晴空塔還配備了另外兩位“官方形象代言人”——企鵝形象的Eppenpen以及傳統活字典爺爺狗形象的Sukoburuburu。高聳典雅的晴空塔讓東京鐵塔(Tokyo Tower)顯得黯然失色,外形酷似埃菲爾鐵塔(Eiffel Tower)的東京鐵塔建於上世紀50年代,深受日本人喜愛,但又顯得過於艷麗。雖說去年發生的九級大地震震歪了東京鐵塔的塔尖,但晴空塔的運營商說晴空塔卻毫髮未損。晴空塔建有一套特別的抗震系統,建有加固的混凝土心柱(擁有2523級疏散樓梯)以及專門的鋼筋晶格結構。運營商說:與傳統的建築相比,這種結構能讓震動消減50%。讓我印象深刻的是:晴空塔對每個“細枝末節”力求精益求精。安裝的近2000盞LED燈讓它在夜色中顯得絢麗多彩。每座電梯的裝修風格迥異,通往頂層的電梯則裝有玻璃頂。體現日本人做事一絲不苟的經典例子是:抵達晴空塔後,呈給我的宣傳冊上單獨列有印刷勘誤表。本人費了一些周折才整明白錯在何處——通讀多遍後方才意識到僅僅只是漏掉了一個句號。購物成癮的遊客還可以在此一遂心願,橫跨幾個樓層的商場屆時將成為東京規模最大的購物中心。遊客還可在高空盡情花錢:展望台設有咖啡屋(拿鐵售價450日元)、餐館(不算觀光電梯費,大餐起價12600日元)以及紀念品商店。有些東西的售價高得讓人咂舌——尤其是通體透亮的63厘米高晴空塔水晶模型,標價高達665700日元。然而,遊客不應該想當然地認為晴空塔就是從高空領略東京勝景的唯一去處。本人最心儀的遊歷就是登臨位於新宿的東京都政府大樓(Metropolitan Government Building)的瞭望台。雖說它的高度只有202米,但瞭望台視野開闊,既可欣賞一望無際的都市景像以及近處的摩天樓群,還可以逛一逛那家不起眼但又很棒的旅遊用品店。最重要的是登高覽勝無需門票。王明是《金融時報》東京站負責人.................................................. .....................欲了解更多遊覽以及票務方面的詳情,請瀏覽網站:www.tokyo-skytree.jp/english/。日本國內游公司(Inside Japan Tours)還提供東京特色遊,把城市遊與登塔覽勝合二為一。欲了解更多東京都政府大樓之詳情,敬請瀏覽以下網站:www.metro.tokyo.jp/ENGLISH。


photoAn aerial view of Tokyo Sky Tree lit up on Dec. 23. (Eiji Hori)photoThe illuminated Tokyo Sky Tree is seen from a tour boat in Sumidagawa river in Tokyo. (Chisato Matsumoto)photoMany people flock to Genmoribashi bridge, about 600 meters west of Tokyo Sky Tree, to take pictures of the lit tower on Dec. 23. (Kazuhisa Kurokawa)photoTokyo Sky Tree stands in a white glow on Dec. 23. (Toshiyuki Takeya)
Tokyo Sky Tree, a new broadcast tower under construction in Tokyo's Sumida Ward, was aglow in white lights on Dec. 23 to celebrate the holiday season.

大曲 四十二歲成年式 梵天唄investors have unfriended Mixi in a big way

 Japan's Facebook Has Ugly Profile

Just like Facebook, Japanese social-networking firm Mixi debuted its shares to much fanfare. Since then though, investors have unfriended the company in a big way.

in a big way
To a great extent, conspicuously. For example, I could go for a hamburger in a big way, or This hotel chain is expanding in a big way. [Slang; late 1800s]

One not a friend; an enemy. [R.] Carlyle.


    成人の日に、成人に達した人を祝う儀式。多く地方自治体や企業などで行う。 新年》
早上可能看1/2~2/3部 雪鄉
NHK 四十二歲成年式  同期昭和四六會大樹   1971級  250人65人參加大曲  梵天唄
 他們一起到森林拜樹伐木回去做奉鈉的"道具"  完成之後 一一到各同學家去 祈福(防厄) --- 日本是家人站在門外受福答唄 同學們在屋外梵天唄

FlipBooth - 大曲駅での梵天唄 - Free Pinoy 24 TV


2012年5月21日 星期一

模仿創意和果子 Creativity blooms for Japanese confections in summer




2012-05 Web only 作者:經濟學人

維多利亞的秘密的老闆Les Wexner,每年都會花一個月的時間到世界各地旅行,好吸收其他企業的想法;他的哲學就是,企業應該讚揚模仿。這有點像是異端邪說,政治人物和無數獎項都在頌揚革新,模仿者則被當成壞蛋。
從歷史來看,最後的贏家通常是模仿者。現在還有誰記得率先推出紙尿布的Chux?管理學大師Ted Levitt曾在60年代寫道,在企業界,模仿不但遠比革新普遍,也比較有機會帶來成長和利潤。
承 認自己是模仿者的企業極少,因為那會傷害老闆的自尊心,還有可能引來法律糾紛。不過,安全模仿的機會還是相當多,以雀巢的Nespresso咖啡機為 例,Nespresso前主管Jean-Paul Gaillard就在新公司推出了完全適用於Nespresso機器的咖啡膠囊,而且雀巢無法阻止此事。
部分商業界人士願意思考革新的限 制,Dell前執行長Kevin Rollins曾問:「如果革新是這麼棒的競爭武器,為什麼它沒有帶來獲利?」。但大部分人仍舊沉迷於革新,也因為如此,企業在模仿這門藝術上並沒有投入 足夠的心力;模仿相當普遍,但許多企業無法有效率地模仿。



Creativity blooms for Japanese confections in summer


photoHydrangea as interpreted by Kasho Kikuya, center, and clockwise from top: Toshimaya; Toraya; Kasho Kikuya; Ryoguchiya Korekiyo; Tsuruya Yoshinobu; and Toraya. Some of the confections are limited production items. (The Asahi Shimbun)

With rainy season at its height, one flower seems to thrive and bloom in the seemingly never-ending drizzle that blankets much of Japan during the early summer months.
While nowhere celebrated like the cherry blossoms, the hydrangea, with its petals in hues of blue, purple, pink and white, adds flair and color to an otherwise monotonous and gloomy season.
So it seems fitting that the flower is a popular theme chosen by creators of Japanese confections, whose intricately designed sweets attempt to capture the sentimentalism surrounding the changing of seasons.
A sampler of the various hydrangea-themed morsels created by artisans at various confectionaries shows the diversity of the ingredients and techniques that are used to create wagashi, or Japanese confections.
One morsel features a ball of bean paste sprinkled with blue- and purple-colored gelatin to recreate an entire grove of hydrangeas. Another more simple creation made of a pinkish, marzipan-like concoction of bean paste, glutinous rice and sugar features a single flower with four squarish petals, while yet another tries to emulate the image of dew lingering on the leaves and petals.
"The shapes, colors and names are essential in creating a sense of the season in wagashi," said Keiko Nakayama, a chief researcher at the Toraya Archives Toraya Bunko, which records the history of Tokyo-based Japanese confectionary Toraya.
According to Nakayama, Toraya, established nearly 480 years ago, has 3,000 titles for confections, some of which are documented in old scriptures.
While adhering to tradition, Japanese confections have also reflected the times.
"With abstract designs, there is the joy of trying to imagine what is being portrayed while listening to the titles. However, many recent confections seem to pursue a realist approach," Nakayama said. "It's a little sad to think that the sense of playfulness has been lost."
While appetites become thinner with the approaching summer heat, the creativity of wagashi artisans appear to reach the apex.
With the arrival of such seasonal motifs as peonies, morning glories, goldfish, fireflies and crystal-clear streams, confectionaries try to evoke a sense of coolness to match the summer weather with "kudzu" and "kanten" (agar) gelatin and other translucent or watery ingredients.
It's not just the artisans who are changing with the times. According to Nakayama, people nowadays are breaking away from the traditional image that wagashi is enjoyed best when served with green tea.
"Some customers tell us that they enjoy their 'yokan' (bean paste jelly) with espresso or cognac," Nakayama said.
Toraya Gallery on the second floor of Toraya's main office in Tokyo's Akasaka district occasionally features exhibitions on wagashi.

2012年5月20日 星期日

Liberalization of electricity retail businesses , Tepco Was Short-Circuited/ Nissan profit soars

Japanese government panel to urge competition in retail power sales

Posted: 1:00am on May 19, 2012; Modified: 4:31pm on May 19, 2012
A government advisory panel in Japan has agreed to recommend that retail sales of electricity to households be totally liberalized, sources said.

The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry panel of experts on reforms of electrical power systems, chaired by Professor Motoshige Itoh of the University of Tokyo, said Friday the electricity retail business, including supply to households, should be completely opened up to competition.

The panel also said the current method used by electric power companies to decide charges should be abolished to introduce competition to the industry. Currently, utility charges are calculated by totaling such costs as labor and fuel and adding a percentage as a profit margin.
The panel also is expected to call for accelerating other steps to liberalize the electricity business, such as separating power generation and distribution of electricity by regional electric power companies, to prevent utilities from having monopolies in their service areas and keeping electricity rates at high levels even after liberalization.

If the reforms are realized, households will have more choices in selecting electricity suppliers, which is expected to result in lower electricity bills.

The liberalization plan for household-use electricity will be included in a new basic energy plan the government plans to compile this summer.

As the electric power industry is expected to accept the plan, the government plans to submit a bill to revise the Electricity Business Law as early as spring next year.

After a period during which the public will be notified of the changes, the new scheme will go into effect as early as around 2015, the sources said.

If the electricity retail business is totally liberalized, consumers will be able to freely choose suppliers from among not only current regional electric power companies but also power producer and supplier firms, which may provide electricity at lower prices, and retail firms specializing in renewable energy resources.

If the current pricing method is abolished, the system that requires the ministry to approve power companies' applications before raising electricity charges will also be scrapped. As a result, power producers and suppliers will be able to freely set power rates.

The ministry on Friday presented to the panel a reform plan for the electricity industry, proposing the creation of a wide-area power distribution network that will enable utilities to supply electricity to each other, and establishment of a new nationwide organization to manage the network.

The ministry has begun negotiations with the electric power industry and other parties concerned to realize the plans.

The industry had opposed such liberalization for many years, but it apparently changed its policy due to the government's hard-line stance.

This spring, the government reviewed the utilities' current billing methods and decided to set upper limits on labor costs that can be reflected in electricity charges.

Electric power companies apparently concluded it would be to their advantage to accept the billing limits because they will make them more competitive when newcomers enter the market under liberalization, according to observers.

The ministry will separately consider measures to ensure electricity supply to remote islands and rural areas where depopulation is under way.

Liberalization of electricity retail businesses has been gradually implemented since 2000.
But even today, households and small stores, whose power consumption accounts for about 40 percent of total electricity use, can buy power only from regional electric power companies in their respective areas.

Earlier this year, Tokyo Electric Power Co. decided to drastically raise electricity rates.
Because ordinary households have no choice but to buy electricity from Tepco despite the hike, there has been mounting criticism among the public toward the current system, rapidly boosting public support for liberalization.

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2012/05/19/2528841/japanese-government-panel-to-urge.html#storylink=cpy

Tepco Was Short-Circuited From the Start
Wall Street Journal
Investors still backing the Japanese utility must surely be looking to pull the plug. The latest round of funding, announced this week, entails $12 billion in government support as well as $13 billion in new loans. In return for its backing, ...

Doomsday scenarios spread about No. 4 reactor at Fukushima plant

May 10, 2012
By HIDEO SATO/ Shukan Asahi Weekly Magazine
When Ron Wyden, a Democratic senator from the U.S. state of Oregon, visited the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on April 6, he spent about an hour looking at a building constructed under strict anti-quake standards and observed the facility that processes water contaminated by radiation.
Although he was driven by car past the reactor buildings, he did not actually enter any of the reactor buildings, according to officials of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the plant.
But after his return to the United States, Wyden, who sits on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, fueled concerns of possible catastrophic events at the No. 4 reactor of the Fukushima plant, specifically what would happen if a huge quake damaged the spent fuel rod pool there.
TEPCO has issued statements reassuring the public that such a disaster would not occur, saying the structure has been reinforced to withstand serious shaking.
But these days, even politicians may seem more reliable than TEPCO about information concerning nuclear safety.
Wyden sent a letter dated April 16 to Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan's ambassador to the United States, that said the storage pool holding spent nuclear fuel at the No. 4 reactor could collapse if the reactor building was hit by another major earthquake or tsunami. The senator also warned that emissions of radioactive materials in such an event would be much greater than after last year's accident.
The letter also said that work should be accelerated to remove the nuclear fuel from the pool and stated that the United States was prepared to provide all forms of support for such efforts.
Copies of the letter were sent to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
In its April 17 edition, the Wall Street Journal ran a story that included Wyden’s claim that there was a serious and unresolved understatement of the earthquake risk at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
The Huffington Post carried a report that included an analysis by an expert who said that if radiation spewed from nuclear fuel in the No. 4 reactor pool because of insufficient cooling, the total amount of cesium-137 emitted would be at least 10 times the amount released during the Chernobyl disaster.
The Washington Post also ran an article about the dangers of the No. 4 reactor.
Alarms about the No. 4 reactor were also being raised in Japan.
Mitsuhei Murata, 74, a professor emeritus at Tokaigakuen University who once served as Japan's ambassador to Switzerland, said, "The existence of the No. 4 reactor has become a major national security issue for the entire world that does not take a back seat even to North Korea's missile issue."
He had called for a halt to operations at the Hamaoka nuclear power plant even before the Great East Japan Earthquake struck last year, leading to the nuclear crisis.
"If an accident should occur at the No. 4 reactor, it could be called the start of the ultimate catastrophe for the world," Murata said as a witness at an Upper House Budget Committee hearing in March.
According to Murata, his comments at the hearing were translated into English and posted on a blog by Akio Matsumura, who once worked at the United Nations. The post was accessed by individuals from 160 nations.
Compared with the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which all experienced meltdowns, the No. 4 reactor was not seriously damaged by the March 11, 2011, quake and tsunami because it was undergoing a periodic inspection at the time.
However, the No. 4 reactor building houses a storage pool containing 1,535 spent fuel rods, the largest number of any of the reactors.
An explosion and fire at the No. 4 reactor blew away the walls and roof of the steel-reinforced concrete building, so the reactor building was hit by major structural damage.
Moreover, the storage pool is still not covered and remains exposed to the atmosphere. That situation has raised serious questions about what would happen if another quake with an intensity of 7 struck the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
Murata has his own predictions.
"If the storage pool should collapse and the 1,535 fuel rods began burning in the atmosphere, an endless amount of radiation would be emitted. Of course, that would mean that Tokyo would become unlivable," he said.
Murata continued: "Just 50 meters from the No. 4 reactor is the common pool for the No. 1 to No. 6 reactors. The common pool holds 6,375 spent nuclear fuel rods. If a fire should occur at the No. 4 reactor pool, the common pool would also not stand a chance."
That is the potential crisis at the No. 4 reactor that is causing so much fear around the world.
In fact, immediately after last year's accident, the biggest concern raised by the United States was the storage pool at the No. 4 reactor.
A major factor behind the NRC's decision to issue an evacuation recommendation for U.S. citizens within an 80-kilometer radius of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, much wider than the one set by the Japanese government, was because of information obtained that the storage pool at the No. 4 reactor was empty of cooling water.
That information later proved false. And cooling of the storage pool has now been maintained.
But Arnie Gundersen, a U.S. nuclear engineer who visited Japan in February, has raised other concerns.
In an interview with Shukan Asahi at that time, Gundersen said the nuclear fuel pool at the No. 4 reactor still has the power to physically split the Japanese archipelago.
He said the spent nuclear fuel in the No. 4 reactor pool is equivalent to several reactor cores and contains radiation equal to the amount released in the atmosphere by all past nuclear experiments.
Gundersen has also written that the No. 4 reactor building's structure has weakened, the building is tilted, and that he has advised friends in Tokyo to immediately evacuate should the No. 4 reactor collapse.
TEPCO on April 26 issued a press release that disputed Gundersen’s claims.
"The No. 4 reactor building is not tilted and it, including the storage pool, will not be destroyed by a quake," it said.
According to the release, measurements were taken to confirm that the floor where the storage pool is located is parallel to the water surface of the pool.
TEPCO officials also explained that the steel support at the base of the pool and concrete wall had been reinforced by last July, which has increased by 20 percent the leeway against a possible quake.
In addition, the utility conducted a simulation exercise using analytical models that showed that even if a lower-6 intensity quake were to strike the plant again, it would not collapse.
TEPCO has also begun work to cover the entire No. 4 reactor building in order to start removing the spent nuclear fuel from the storage pool. Work to remove the fuel rods could begin as soon as next year.
However, one problem is that TEPCO’s information is now generally greeted with doubts.
"The trust in the central government and TEPCO which allowed the accident to happen has fallen around the world,” Murata said. “There is no nation that wholeheartedly believes those releases."
In the United States, plans have been devised to set up a neutral and independent evaluation committee consisting of experts from around the world to look into the situation at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and consider ways to resolve the problems there. Such moves show that many feel TEPCO and the Japanese government can no longer be depended upon to deal with the accident.
"Since TEPCO is, after all, a for-profit company, it cannot be said to be making every possible effort,” Murata said. “There is no time to waste. Knowledge from around the world should be gathered as soon as possible to begin the work of removing the nuclear fuel from the storage pool."
Murata has sent a letter to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda asking that action be taken, but so far nothing specific has been done.

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